Conversations With Equestrians: Lucy Davis

Look Out for Lucy
Committed, focused, intelligent and competitive, Lucy Davis is a trainer’s dream. Both natural and exceptional, the young equestrian exemplifies talent. And furthermore, she is soft spoken, kind and zen-like. A senior in high school, Lucy competes in the Big Eq and in the Big Jumpers. She not only rides in both indoor and outdoor grand prix classes, she does it a certain sense of experience that comes with natural talent. She’s won at the highest level offered for junior jumper riders, including Indoors and Young Riders, but also ribbons against professionals.

Lucy is also lucky. She not only has supportive parents – her mom ranks way up there on the horse showmom meter – but one of her best friends, Patrick, lives at home in the barn.

We interviewed her on the eve of the ASPCA Maclay Regionals in September. Since our chat just over a month ago, she has placed 7th and 12th in two $50,000 World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix classes. Back East at Indoors she was 4th in the USEF Medal Finals at Harrisburg.

Lucy Davis and Enrico, Best Pony Rider
2005 Menlo Charity HS © JumpShot
EqSol: Your start with horses?
LD:
 My grandfather works in horse racing so my mom grew up around it. When she moved to Los Angeles she started riding at Sullivan Canyon – we now live there. I’ve been riding in the Canyon since I could walk, pretty much. Just for fun but I was always around it. I started taking lessons when I was five, with Chacha Levinson.EqSol: Your firsts… First blue ribbon?
LD:
 At the Santa Barbara National when I was six. I won a flat class on my pony, Biscuits ‘N Gravy.

EqSol: First time on a jumper?
LD:
 I rode in the pony jumpers when I was about 10 or 11. But when I moved to Archie (Cox), my mom wanted me to stick with hunters and eq. I was about thirteen when I got my first jumper with Archie, Mister Mind.

EqSol: First Grand Prix?
LD:
 It was at a fall show in Del Mar a couple of years ago. I rode True Love. I think it went well, I don’t remember. [In fact it was the $25,000 CA Horsetrader Grand Prix at the 2008 Del Mar Fall Festival, and she was second behind Stefanie Saperstein] 

EqSol: And with all this Grand Prix show jumping, you are still competing in the Big Eq?
LD:
 Yes, I have a bad birthday – late October – so this is my last year for most of the medal finals. I hope to qualify tonight for the ASPCA (she did, placing 15th) and also competed in the WIHS Eq Finals (this past week) and USEF Medal Final (she was 4th).

EqSol: You have worked extensively with two trainers and recently made a change. Some history?
LD:
 I’ve ridden with Archie since I was 12 years old, when I was ready to show more and move to horses from ponies. And I still love it after six years. Archie has an intense work ethic – he is the hardest worker I know. When I was ready to focus on the high level jumpers, I started riding with Dick Carvin. That was about three years ago.

I ride every day at home. We keep my equitation horse Patrick and some of my old hunters at our small barn in Sullivan Canyon. It’s a little horse neighborhood where most of the houses have barns and we use the community arenas and riding areas. I did take lessons at Middle Ranch (where Archie and Dick both have their home operations) on weekends when I wasn’t showing.

News flash: Since our interview in September, Lucy’s jumpers moved to Sandstone in Thousand Oaks, CA where she will be working with Gaby Salick and Markus Beerbaum. Post competing in the ASPCA Maclay Finals in Syracuse, NY in early November her next show jumping competition will be in Buenos Aires the following week!

EqSol: Dick told me you were one of the most focused individuals he has ever met. Your thoughts on that?
LD:
 That’s a great compliment. I am the kind of person that gets something in my head and can focus on it intensely. I guess I am lucky to have that ability but it does work against me sometimes.

EqSol: You’ve excelled in each discipline – under Archie’s tutelage you’ve earned championships in hunters on both coasts and top medal final placings in equitation, then with Dick as your coach Young Rider victories, Grand Prix starts and last year Europe…
LD:
 I was lucky to get the chance to go to Frankfort for the European Young Masters League last December. Each of the medalists at Young Riders got a wild card spot to compete with the top 30 European riders. I was the only one that could go.

EqSol: And didn’t you win?
LD:
 [smile] I did. I got lucky. I also got to tag along with Meredith Michaels Beerbaum and established a friendship. That led to this past summer’s adventure.

EqSol: Tell us more about summer 2010.
LD:
 I spent about a month in Germany showing with Markus and Meredith Beerbaum. It was the best summer of my life so far. I learned so much, not only about technical riding skills but also on the ground about being a horseman. What tack to use, preparing the horse for the class… it was a very focused and knowledgeable environment.

I made a lot of great friends. Stefanie Saperstein and Navona Gallegos were both there and another American from Alabama who is now a working student, Christy. There was a guy from Kuwait and a group of working students from Finland, so all together it was about 10 of us.

Competing in Europe has such a great feel. The shows have so many spectators, and not just horse people. One show the entire town came to watch, it was a big event. Equestrians are treated like pro athletes over there. I competed in three shows and it was an awesome experience all the way around. It all came together at my last show, especially with my younger horse Hannah.

EqSol: Your favorite spot in Europe?
LD:
 Madrid by far. I will live in Spain sometime in this lifetime.

EqSol: Your favorite equestrians?
LD:
 Meredith of course. The French rider Penelope Leprevost. And Laura Kraut, she’s also a really nice person.

EqSol: Now that you’ve had international experience, if there was a horse you could ride who would it be?
LD:
 It would probably be this fabulous horse I saw in Frankfurt ridden by Marco Kutcher, Cornet Obelinsky. A big white horse that floats over the jumps, it is just amazing to watch. And I think everyone would like a chance to ride Shutterfly. It’s probably true that only one person can ride him, but it would be fun to try. He’s 17 years old and just did the Grand Prix at Aachen. He loves his job and is definitely still in the game. Meredith and Marcus take excellent care of the horses.

Lucy Davis and Nemo 119
2010 $35,000 Blenheim Spring
Classic II Grand Prix © JumpShot
EqSol: And your jumpers?
LD:
 Hannah is nine-year-old mare. We bought her about a year ago and we’ve both been working on getting comfortable at the bigger heights. We’ve both blossomed and she’s really coming along. I was happy with her last night [in the World Cup Qualifier]. We had two down, but nothing disastrous – just little things we can work on. She’s been confident at the bigger jumps and I’m really proud of her. Nemo 119 is a more rambunctious and feisty type. I’ve only had him since January; he is more experienced in the bigger classes than I am. Really a sweet horse at the barn but he gives me a hard time in the ring. He really makes me work for it. He’s a character, to say the least.EqSol: What are your college plans? Horses?
LD:
 I graduate this year in June. I set really lofty personal goals, and I did that with college too. I don’t want to jinx anything so I’m hesitant to say where. It is so competitive these days, the counselors at school say that 80% of people who apply to the best schools are fully qualified, but only 6-9% get in.So it’s a crapshoot. Once I do go I’ll probably be on the five-year plan. I’m a perpetual learner. And yes, I’d love to ride while in college.EqSol: Your riding goals? Career goals?
LD:
 I want to start doing better at the Grand Prix level. I definitely need experience in small indoor rings with big jumps. It’s pretty hard actually. I’ve jumped a big course but when you put them in a tight space there’s not a lot of room for error.My dream is every aspiring rider’s dream – to go to the Olympics. And also to compete at Aachen. I went to watch this summer, it was an amazing event.I don’t think I have the patience to be a trainer. I will have to see after college. I think if I were to choose it would be film director or writer but I do want to see how far I can go with riding. If I am at a place where it is realistic to keep going and do well at some of the highest levels I will pursue it. Riding is my passion. As of now riding is a big priority. But I will go to college.

EqSol: We find that behind most superb young riders is an awesome parent or two. Tell us about yours.
LD:
 [smiling] My mom is definitely awesome and my dad loves it too. He comes to a lot of the horse shows but stays low key. My younger brother Clay (almost 15) is an all-around sports guy and has been coming to the shows for ten years, not necessarily happily. As much as he feigns he hates it, he’s really a softie and very supportive. My mom is totally committed, I think she has spent at least three birthdays at Harrisburg. That says a lot. She is not just there for me, but she is really curious about how it all works and always eager to learn. At the same time she stays behind the scenes, she is never overbearing. I really admire that about her. She has my old hunter Gallatea and takes lessons for fun.

Lucy Davis and Patrick
2009 Del Mar National © Rick Osteen
EqSol: And finally, who is your best friend that lives in the barn?
LD:
 We’ve had Patrick since he was five and now he’s eight. He’s lived at our house since the beginning and we’ve established a good relationship. He is one of the sweetest horses I have ever met. Whether you’ve had a good day or a bad day, you can go into his stall and cuddle. Patrick is a great friend.What an exciting time for you – ending your junior career and finishing high school. Already into the grand prix show jumping chapter of your riding and then college… We wish you all the best and look forward to hearing about your future successes!

Conversations With Course Designers: Guilherme Jorge and Hap Hansen

By Jackie McFarland

Analyzing the World’s Most Competitive Courses with Special Guests Hap Hansen and Guilherme Jorge
We’ve all ridden plenty of Grand Prix classes from our seats… in the audience. And thanks to modern technology we’ve watched the WEG courses via FEI.tv, the new USEF network and YouTube. But I had the chance to watch with Hap Hansen, who certainly knows what it’s like to ride those courses from the seat of the saddle. Plus in the midst of the competition I was able to converse with Guilherme Jorge, assistant to World Equestrian Games head course designer Conrad Homfeld. Through their experienced eyes, we analyzed the world’s most competitive courses from Lexington, Kentucky, home of the 2010 WEG.

Brazilian Jorge was honored to be a part of an impressive team of international designers, including course architect Richard Jeffrey from Great Britian and assistants American Anthony D’Ambrosio, Canadian Michel Vallaincourt and Christa Stormans from Germany. Seven other course designers joined this elite group plus an excellent jump crew of eight. They were truly a design team, with Homfeld asking for their suggestions and impressions of his designs and distance choices.

Jorge commented, “Homfeld’s courses use his knowledge and experience as a rider at this level and his course design experience. His speed course asked a lot of technical questions. It was a good test and interesting to watch. The tests got tougher on Tuesday, but he kept the less experienced riders in mind.” After our Wednesday interview, he was off to a meeting about Friday’s course.

DAY ONE: SPEED
After the warm-up round on Sunday evening where each rider had 90 seconds to get to know the arena, each day forward counted towards both the Team and Individual standings. Monday was a 1.50m speed class, with faults converted into seconds, so each of the 121 starters were scored according to their time. The placings worked as follows – the fastest overall time, which on this glorious Monday was Mario Deslauriers on Urico, was given a score of 0. His winning time of 71.25 was then subtracted from each subsequent score and that total was multiplied by .5. For example on this same glorious day, McLain Ward was second with a time of 71.79. The formula is: 71.79 – 71.25 = .52 x .5 = .27. That is the score McLain carried into Day Two.

The course theme was the ‘nature of Kentucky’ and the jumps were magnificent. Some memorable jumps were the line from fence five, a vertical with wings resembling mountain peaks to an impressive arch wall at fence six in tight four strides and a combination at 10a-10b made from plank board fencing.

The last line of a liverpool vertical to Rolex combination caused quite a few four fault conversions, adding precious seconds onto riders scores.

DAY TWO: 119 INDIVIDUALS
Day Two was another all day affair – 119 horses passed through the timers. The cumulative scores from this day determined the ten teams that would compete in the Team Final Competition the following evening. I sat with Hap and watched each horse negotiate the brilliant 1.60m Thoroughbred industry-themed course. Hap had the following comments regarding the course, which you can see on the virtual map for 10/5/2010: Team Competition.

Fence 1: A big enough oxer with a nice approach to get everyone started.

Fence 2 –3: There was quite a bit of distance between fences one and two, a good opportunity to gallop in order to stay within the time allowed. However it was important to go far enough around the turn to meet it straight and ride the line, which even though there was a slight bend to the right it rode in a nice seven strides. A few riders rode it in eight.

Fence 4 –5a, b, c: A rollback turn to the left to a tall skinny vertical – a cool jump representing a film slate from Sea Biscuit – which was a careful fence. Best way to approach was to go wide but the time allowed made that difficult. You could see the ones that were confident, careful vertical jumpers who would shave the turn. From there a steady six bending strides to a tricky triple combination – oxer at A, in one to tall vertical at B, what measured a steady two to an oxer at C but rode in a variety of ways depending how much the horse backed up to jump the B element. Each element of the triple took its toll.

Fence 6: Pass the in-gate to the solid black wall. The fence represented a Win, Place, Show scoreboard from the Churchill Downs track and was an intimidating solid looking jump. Quite a few blocks fell.

Fence 7 –8: A sweeping left turn to a wide 4.30m (14′ 1″) water – with several options on the track – inside in seven, center to center in eight or wide in nine strides. This was also tricky as there were quite a good number of feet in the water. The water was set in a line walking long in four strides to a ‘light’ plank vertical that some chose to ride in the forward four and others in the steady 5 – may have been 50/50. Those who stepped in the water did the five. Most who jumped the water well kept going forward for the four.

Fence 9: Right hand turn to a green and gold Keeneland oxer at end of the ring. This was not a particularly difficult fence but it did come up fast after that difficult line. Due to this and because the horses were still forward after the last line and didn’t back off the front rail, it came down a surprising number of times. Like for McLain and Sapphire, it led them right into the front rail, that was the trap.

Fence 10: Rollback to the FEI purple vertical with jockey silks. Not too much trouble at this jump.

Fence 11 – 12A-B – 13: This last line was a difficult track and caused a good amount of rails. Fence 11 was a wide enough oxer then an option of a forward four strides or quite a few tried to collect the horse for a steady five to a very short and airy white vertical – vertical combination and finishing in a forward six stride bending line to a 1.90m (6′ 3″) wide Rolex oxer.

“Overall it was a brilliant course. Exciting to watch with great results. The presentation was beautiful,” noted Hansen. Of the 119 horses, just over 15% (17 horses) went clean; another four were close with one time fault. Nineteen more had just one rail. The remaining 79 horses had 5 faults or more.

DAY THREE: TEAM COMPETITION
So the results from yesterday were tallied – faults were added to the speed score – and the team totals were determined. The ten teams with the lowest cumulative scores competed in a final round on Wednesday night. Again the total number of faults each rider scored in the round were added to both the overall team score and their individual score. These totals resulted in both the final Team standings, awarded on Wednesday, as well as which riders were return for the top thirty on Friday night. The top four scoring riders after Friday’s class would compete on Saturday in the Final Four. Fifteen more rounds were added to Wednesday’s list – the fifteen best scoring individual riders that weren’t on a team competed for a score, to determine if they would make it to the top thirty individual competition.

The course wasn’t altered much from the one Hap analyzed on Tuesday, however the few changes were key as many riders experienced. Guilherme shared some of the slight height changes, with some jumps as high as 1.65m (5’5″). Fences # 2, 3, 6, 9 and 10 were raised and 5A was square when on Tuesday it was slightly ramped.

The difficult line mid-course from the open water to the plank vertical, fences seven to eight, changed to an equally difficult width test – a wide (2.20m or 7’3″) triple bar in a forward four or holding five strides to the plank vertical. This made your track from the wall at fence six extremely important and didn’t ride the same as a gallop to an open water, instead riders had to choose a track that would get them to the base of the triple bar and then they each had to know not only how far into the line the horse would land but as well how adjustable once inside. There were a lot of problems here, including the unfortunately long distance to the triple bar that came up for Mario Deslauriers and Urico, which ended up in a frightening crash where Urico sat down on the back side. The pair circled and recovered to finish the course.

Venezuela’s Pablo Barrios had the opposite problem; he rode beautifully across the triple bar and went forward for the four, which came up too long, and the pair plowed through the plank vertical. Both successful and experienced riders, these mishaps proved the challenges that the fifty-five entries encountered on course.

It was Germany’s night. They came in with a total score of 17.80 and with three of four teams riders going clean, the score remained the same for the win. France also had an excellent showing only adding 4 faults to their score, moving up from fifth to second. Belgium made a big jump from eighth to third only adding two points to their total score. It was not a great night for the US, although Laura Kraut did shine with a beautifully clean round.

DAY FOUR: INDIVIDUAL TOP 30, 2 ROUNDS
Displayed here is a nice representation of the track and the jumps used on this day. The jumps in black were used in Round One and in red are Round Two. Visually the theme was Iconic WEF and Kentucky, which the jumps beautifully illustrate. As a brief review, one of the most challenging lines was the final one in Round One, an oxer-oxer-vertical triple combination across the diagonal in line with the final jump. Most scores were between four and eight faults, with only five of the thirty riders going clean. In Round Two, the shortened course was slightly less technical and thirteen of the twenty-four who returned were fault free, including a great comeback by McLain Ward and Sapphire who jumped brilliantly in both rounds to move from a rank of 26th to 7th.

DAY FIVE: THE FINAL FOUR
Having watched this at the USET Talent Search Level multiple times it was quite amazing to see the stakes taken up several notches and see four of the world’s best riders ride each others horses over a 1.60m course. Again having the honor of sitting with Hap Hansen, we collectively thought that Hickstead would be the most difficult to ride. Although certainly strong and sometimes slightly out of control, he proved to be on his best behavior for the Final Four and was actually the best horse of the night. Abdullah Al Sharbatly and Rodrigo Pessoa each had surprising rails on their own mounts, but Sharbatly rode the other three horses like a pro and jumped into second place. Small mistakes if not just tired horses took a toll on Pessoa and Eric Lamaze who dropped to fourth and third respectively. Phillippe Le Jeune was simply stellar. Clean on each of the four rides, he was clearly the champion.

Both of my special guests agreed that it was a week of great sport. Jorge, who started the road to the WEG for the Americans when he designed all the WEG Trials in Wellington last winter, absorbed great knowledge from master course designers and riders, as well as contributing his own expertise. Along with keenly watching every horse and rider, Hansen also had a few days of fun socializing with friends from all over the world, shopping and experiencing Kentucky hospitality. I am thankful to them both. Course photos from Guilherme Jorge; course walk photo from Lisa Mitchell.

 

Conversations With Equestrians: Nicole Shahinian Simpson

By Jackie McFarland

High-pressure situations are not new to Nicole Shahinian Simpson. Her reputation for catch riding began during her successful junior years, which culminated with winning both the AHSA (now USEF) and ASPCA Maclay Medal Finals. As a professional she continues to win at the highest levels, including competing in seven World Cup Finals and as a member of the 2002 WEG Team.

As we connect with these top-level riders and try to tap into what makes them successful, we find that they tend to possess an uncanny skill to get ‘in the zone’. Some may have developed this skill, but most simply have it. It is innate and gives them the ability to perform with supreme focus in a calm, cool and collected state of mind. Nicki Simpson has this innate talent in spades. She is not only a naturally beautiful rider, but she can make a 1.60m course look like her ASPCA Medal Final win.

Technically, Nicki and Tristan ‘won’ the WEG trials at WEF this year. That means that aside from the three riders given bys – McLain Ward, Laura Kraut and Lauren Hough – who didn’t have to complete trials but took the three top spots on the long list, Nicki had the lowest overall faults after the trials were complete. Although many factors go into the Selection Committee’s decision, this one should be considered. Also it is notable that although Tristan may have all the scope, she made him a world-class competitor. The very skill mentioned above – that uncanny ability to ride a 1.60m course in a smooth and unwavering way – brings out the best in the horse. And Tristan is now at his best.

Having just returned from the second leg of the European Tour, we spent some time talking with Nicki about the experience and about her business with her husband, Olympic Gold Medalist Will Simpson.

Eqsol: What shows did you attend on your tour?
NS:
 On the second leg we competed in two Nations Cups – Rotterdam and Aachen. I also went to Chantilly (seventh stop of the Global Champions Tour) on my own; Laura Kraut and Lauren Hough were there but we weren’t on a team.

EqSol: Was this the first time you had shown at these venues?
NS: 
Yes. I’ve been to watch but not competed. Aachen is so steeped in tradition; I believe they celebrated 100 years last year. It is quite magnificent. Of course the field rode beautifully and the jumps were fabulous. There were 50,000 people in the stands waving white handkerchiefs during the closing ceremony – it was truly surreal.

EqSol: How were the courses? How were they different from and similar to courses you competed in for the WEG trials?
NS:
 The courses were what they should be. You know its funny, I don’t get too caught up in the specifics of the difficulty of the course. They build, you walk and you find a way to jump it clean. The courses designers are the best in the world, they know how to build a course that’s not gimmicky but fair, tough enough, but not out to kill anyone and ultimately produce a good result.

Each venue is different – Aachen is on an enormous grass field that requires a lot of galloping, it has a Spruce feel. Rotterdam’s arena is smaller than the one at WEF. Yet each event produces unique results because of both the venue itself and the course designer matched with it. It’s been really fair everywhere.

EqSol: The competition – is the ‘feeling’ different when competing in Europe at CSIO 5* shows on a Nations Cups Team as well as a potential WEG Team member?
NS:
 As a competitor when you walk through the gate – you go out to produce the best round that you can no matter what. There is secondary pressure of being on a team where your score is that much more important in other ways. On the competitive side it’s the same – still your best effort – but it is a little extra pressure when you are part of a team.

Competing in Europe is exciting in many ways. From the language to how the shows are run. Certain aspects are very different. The first time I went was a World Cup Final – don’t know how many years ago – that was a big eye opener. You get into the groove of their system a bit faster every time you go.

EqSol: And the tour results?
NS:
 Winning the Nations Cup in Rotterdam was great of course. It was fun to win as an all-girls team – they called us ‘George’s girls’. We all rode well and the horses were great; it was a nice way to start. We had great scores again in Aachen – I had 4 in the first round and went clean in the second, Laura had just one rail in each round and both Candice and Lauren were clean in the first with 4 in the second. We were only 3 faults from second place team.

In the Grand Prix of Aachen, Tristan and I had only the first jump down but were clear otherwise. The jump was just a vertical on the rail, it was too easy in some ways and a lot had it down. It was a careful jump so you couldn’t ride at it too hard. If it had been a giant oxer it would’ve been different, that was the trap.

We were 8th in the Speed Class and 15th in the Grand Prix in Chantilly. I’m really pleased with our overall results.

EqSol: Your favorite horse and rider post-tour?
NS:
 I have to say that Hickstead and Eric Lamaze are an amazing combination. Hickstead is just a machine and Eric competed and even won with a broken foot in Aachen. Watching them win at Spruce and then watching them do the same at Aachen was pretty incredible.

EqSol: So… Tristan. He wasn’t a big name until this year. Can you tell us a bit more about the match?
NS:
 Ilan Ferder asked me to start riding Tristan and a few others in May of 2009. Tristan was a nine-year-old then, just coming along. He jumped in his own way but had talent and was ready to go the next level. We took it one step at a time. He definitely had all the scope and just needed to get more seasoned and mature a bit. He certainly has achieved that now and will continue. There’s not a jump I’ve jumped where he’s been at his max.

EqSol: What is next for you and for the family business, Simpson Show Jumping?
NS:
 We’ve got 20 horses in training. We do teach a few select riding clients that have similar goals, which works well in our program. It’s fun to have a few serious riders. We have some nice young horses that we are bringing along. The key is to keep developing top prospects for the future. Our ultimate goal is to continually establish international level horses along with owners who have a sincere interest in seeing their horses compete at the highest levels and potentially represent our country on teams both nationally and internationally.

So I thought we were just taking a few to Menlo, but a few turned into 15 horses. Our next major event is the Masters at Spruce. Of course we don’t know if I’ll be going to Kentucky – we’ll know after August 16th. 

The family is doing well. Will had a great Spruce – Black Cherry and Archie Bunker both did well. They are getting ready for the Masters. Sophie moved up to the 1.20m at Spruce. She’s totally dedicated and very serious about her riding, and loves it. Yes, she reminds me of me. She will so some Equitation, but we have her ride the jumpers like you would ride an Equitation course. Ty is very athletic and into sports. He really likes to work with the horses around the barn and loves to build things. He can sit down with a 2,000 piece Lego set and use each piece in his building. It’s interesting that he loves to watch the crew build the courses and often he talks with the course designers.

Thanks so much Nicki. It would be great to see you on the WEG Team and we congratulate you on your tremendous success, especially with developing Tristan into an International horse.

August 11, 2010 – POST INTERVIEW UPDATE:
Tristan doesn’t return from Europe. Naturally we asked…

EqSol: What happened?
NS:
 The USEF picked the team yesterday and so we had to know if Tristan was coming back beforehand. So I called to find out and was told he was not returning, which meant he would not be available for the team. I had to withdraw.

EqSol: What happened previous to this?
NS: 
Tristan didn’t return on the original flight booked on July 28th, but I didn’t know anything about it until right before the horses were supposed to fly. At that point when I called Ilan he assured me the horse would be home if a few weeks. So that is what I believed. And when we did the interview I didn’t want to say anything, as I hoped he was coming back.

Then I got a call last Friday (August 6th) from another US rider that the horse was competing with another rider in Belgium, Samantha McIntosh. She works for Ilan’s partner, Tal Millstein, and rides for New Zealand. That was a surprise.

EqSol: And your statement on this situation?
NS:
 The facts say enough. I’m very disappointed and not happy with how things were handled. But it is what it is. One rumor I’ve heard that is completely untrue is that I quit. Why would I do that at the 11th hour?

Although it was completely out of my hands, I feel I had a sense of responsibility to the team and now can’t commit to it.

Will Tristan compete at the WEG with Samantha McIntosh? Will he be sold? Even after Nicki’s fabulous results up through Chantilly, he now won’t be on the US Team. We are sorry for Nicki and all others who are effected by this decision.

Aachen Accolades

By Jennifer Wood

American Show Jumpers Experience Positive CHIO Aachen
The U.S. sent five show jumpers to Aachen, Germany, to compete at the CHIO, one of the most prestigious competitions in the world. As part of the “second tour,” these riders were there due to their strong finishes in the USEF World Equestrian Games Show Jumping Trials, held this winter at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. After winning the Meydan FEI Nations Cup at the CSIO Rotterdam a month earlier, the team became known as “George’s girls” – Laura Kraut, Lauren Hough, Nicole Simpson, and Candice King. Joining these top four females was two-time Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden.

Madden Makes Her Mark
Madden could not be picked for the Nations Cup team since her tour-qualified horse, Danny Boy, is sick with a virus. However, she started the week off strong for the American team.

In their first class in Aachen, Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo, a 12-year-old BWP mare by Clinton x Heartbreaker, owned by Coral Reef Ranch, were clear and finished tenth in the NetAachen-Preis on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday in the Warsteiner Preis, Preis of Europa the pair was sitting in the final spot of a nine horse jump-off. Madden had the small luxury of knowing the time that she had to beat. With that knowledge, Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo were able to best the time of 50.07 seconds set by Sweden’s Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Ninja La Silla by two seconds. Their time of 48.27 seconds and a fantastic clear round gave them the win in a class of 49 competitors.

California owner Gwendolyn Meyer purchased Via Volo in February this year, and the talented mare has certainly been impressive. They won two major classes at Spruce Meadows in Calgary in the past month before traveling to Europe.

“This is the biggest event that she’s been to,” Madden acknowledged. “She felt great. She seemed very comfortable in this ring, so I was pretty confident with her today. She’s gradually climbing her way up.”

Rain or Shine, Hough Holds Her Own
Yet another American scored a win when Lauren Hough of Wellington, FL (but grew up riding with her mother Linda Hough in California), and Prezioso S, owned by Highlife Farms, topped the field in the Preis der Städte Region Aachen over 53 other competitors. In the “winning round” format, the clear rides returned for a second round. Through inclement weather, Hough and the talented 14-year-old stallion by Pilox were the fastest double clear in 44 seconds flat.

“He actually likes the mud and rain, so I wasn’t disappointed to have to go in the changing conditions,” Hough revealed. “I felt quite confident that the ground is really good and I could take a chance.”

Hough had help from Madden, who went before her and placed seventh on Abigail Wexner’s Mademoiselle. “Beezie and George were really helpful; Beezie had gone before me and told me where I could do less strides than her. It was a really open, galloping jump-off, which suits him. He has a really big step. He’s so handy (too).”

Hough said she is “grateful to have a horse like this in my string.” She added, “In 99% of the shows he goes to, he comes home with a top three placing in a 1.50m class. Those horses are almost impossible to find. He can jump every day to win. I can’t say enough great things about him. He always wants to please and win.”

The Girls in Another Nations Cup
The USA started out strong in the Mercedes-Benz Preis, part of the Meydan FEI Nations Cup with a clear round from Lauren Hough on Quick Study, an 11-year-old Belgian gelding by Quick Star x What A Joy. That same feat was repeated with the next rider, Aachen newcomer Candice King of Wellington, FL (who also began her riding career in California) and Skara Glen’s Davos, a 10-year-old Zangersheide gelding by Carthago Z x Pericles XX.

King said afterward, “I was thrilled. I had a great Rotterdam, so that helped me feel a lot more confident coming into Aachen. It’s been a lifetime dream to come here to Aachen, and I’m finally here at 40 years old! With a young horse, I was just really pleased. It felt like he jumped great. I was just a little unlucky; I didn’t quite get to that one vertical in the second round. I was close to having a double clear. I’m very happy.”

Nicole Simpson of Thousand Oaks, CA (originally from the East coast!), was also competing for the first time in the Nations Cup in Aachen. She and Tristan, a 10-year-old Dutch gelding by Lancelot x Ferro, had just one rail down in the tricky triple combination coming home. Anchor rider Laura Kraut, also of Wellington, FL, had an unfortunate fault at the open water to finish on four faults with Cedric, a 12-year-old Dutch gelding by Chamberlain x Carolus.

Following the first round, the American team sat in a five-way tie for first place with a total of four faults with Ireland, France, Switzerland, and Germany. Their solid trips in the second round would help them rise above two of those teams.

Hough and Quick Study, owned by Laura and Meredith Mateo, had a rail in the double combination to start out the second round for the American team. King and Skara Glen’s Davos, owned by Skara Glen Stables and Ira Gumberg, also contributed four faults.

Simpson and Ilan Ferder’s Tristan helped the team with an all-important clear round as the third American combination, while Kraut and Cedric, owned by Happy Hill Farm and Peter Wetherill, had just a rail at the triple bar.

The United States ended up with a solid third place. The “all-girls” team and their Chef d’Equipe George H. Morris were pleased with their placing as they finished with a total of 12 penalty points, just three points behind Germany with nine and not far from the winners, Ireland, with just four faults.

“I’m always proud of my girls,” Chef d’Equipe Morris commented with a smile. “We had a little thing here and a little thing there, but to be in this company was stellar. It’s fabulous to be here and I’m lucky to have been participating here for so many years.”

Placings in the Grand Prix of Aachen
In the first round of the ROLEX Grand Prix of Aachen, two American riders were clear to advance to the second round. Candice King came back in the second spot in the order on Skara Glen’s Davos, owned by Skara Glen Stables and Ira Gumberg. They finished with 12 faults for 15th place. Laura Kraut returned two trips later with Cedric, owned by Happy Hill Farm and Peter Wetherill. They accrued eight faults and finished 10th.

On to Hickstead, Dublin & Lexington…
The third and final tour started recently in Hickstead. Bob Kraut and Graf Lando, McLain Ward and Rothchild, Cara Raether and Ublesco and Rich Fellers with Flexible competed in The Meydan FEI Nations Cup of Great Britain and also finished third with 29 penalty points. Germany was second with 22 points and Great Britain won with a fabulous final score of 7 penalty points.

The final event on The Meydan Nations Cup Tour was in Dublin, the United States finished second there as well as in the overall standings, jumping ahead of Great Britain by 1.5 points and 9.5 points behind France. After a great showing in Europe, the Selection Committee recently picked the short list of riders who will represent the US at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games this October.

EquestriSol News: July 6, 2010

Honorable Mentions
Here at home we witnessed a list of notable equestrian triumphs. And we certainly won’t have room to mention them all. So hats off to all of you who won your first blue, jumped your first 3’6″ course or your first jumper course. As we raise our now three-year-old daughter we relearn so many lessons, and the one we most recently discussed (although I don’t think she completely understood) was looking at the glass as half-full. We would like to raise our glass, full or half-full, to all of you who touch our lives through your achievements.

SoCal Triplets
Honorable mention goes to the tri-earners, Joie Gatlin and Camaron Hills Quick Dollar earned third place in the last three grand prix events at Blenheim. Mike Endicott is currently competing on three grand prix mounts and collected ribbons on all three during the June Series. Susie Hutchison and the cat-like Cantano continue to bring home the checks, placing 2nd, 1st and 5th in the three grand prix events they entered in June. New Zealander Maruice Beatson has joined the California crowd. In the first two grand prix classes in June, he placed in the top ten on all three horses.

Notable Athletes
Honorable mention to the up and coming grand prix horses. Although there are many aspiring stars, Mandy Porter on LaMarque & Chesapeake, Leslie Steele with Oh My Goodness, Rusty Stewart and Bristol, Michael Endicott riding Santiago & Zico 13, Josephina Nor-Lantzman on Chello Z, John French with River Bird, Lauren Hester on Cracky Z, and Justin Resnik aboard Contact Me were all impressive during their time on the field. No matter what ribbons they may have garnered, they are certainly among the ones to watch.

Honorable mention also goes to Harley Brown, Lane Clarke, Michelle Parker, Molly Talla whose consistency is notable. Before heading north to Spruce, Brown won 4th and 2nd aboard Cassiato. Clarke is knocking at the door on his two mounts, McLord’s First John and Bay Rose’s Nikko. Parker earned some dollars with her entries, winning the final grand prix of the series. And when Talla trots in the ring she often earns a spot in the top twelve.

More Zone Ten Zip
From ponies to jumpers, Zone 10 accomplished quite a bit during the Blenheim June Series. Another opportunity applies to any rider who has qualified for Medal Finals under 3’6″ within Zone 10. You are eligible to compete in the USHJA Zone 10 North/South Medal Challenge. The Stirrup Cup Finals are 3′, while the Mini Medal Finals are 2’6″.
July 9 – 11: Southern Challenge at Camelot Riding Club – this week!
Oct. 7-10: Northern Challenge at Brookside Eq. Park
Contact: Raizy Goffman 818/360-4389 or Peggy Fackrell 916/947-3405

Zone 10 – USHJA EAP
The Emerging Athletes Program is well into its second year, with Level II Regional Events beginning this month through September. The Zone 9 & 10 Regionals are July 26-27 at the J Bar J Boys Ranch in Bend, Oregon with clinician Callen Solem. The top 12 finalists will go to the Nationals in Buffalo, New York in November of this year. Look for upcoming content in this newsletter from one of this year’s winners and west coast champ Ricky Neal.

Spruce and Euro Notes:
Congrats to the Girls… and couple of Guys too
Many congratulations are in order but here are a few highlights. For the first time in Rotterdam history, an all girls team won the Nations Cup. And those famous femmes were none other than our US riders – Lauren Hough, Candice King, Laura Kraut and Nicki Simpson. This unprecedented victory moved the US from sixth to third in the 2010 Meydan FEI Nations Cup Standings with four more competitions on the schedule.

Our west coast Olympic Gold Medalist got a taste of the winner’s circle again when he rode Archie Bunker to the win in the $100,000 CN Performance Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows. As well as our west coast triple grand prix crown winner Guy Thomas who led the victory gallop with Peterbilt in the Cargill Cup on opening day of the Canada One Tournament.

And a west coast owner, Gwendolyn Meyer, celebrates back to back wins at Spruce as Beezie Madden pilots Coral Reef Vio Volo to the top spot in both the $65,000 Esso Challenge and the $50,000 RBC Cup. Madden is off to Aachen now for more Nations Cup competition, along with Nicki Simpson and the other US WEG Team hopefuls.

Of course that only covers a fraction of the riders competing up at Spruce and those in Europe, and we certainly congratulate all the gallant efforts. For more in depth show jumping coverage and news see PhelpsSports.com.

News from NARG
Resolution of the McLain Ward/Sapphire World Cup Elimination Dispute
The North American Riders Group believes that to advance the sport of show jumping, all decisions related to its future must put the sport itself above all else. This resolution is an example of just that.

McLain, the USEF and the FEI could have continued a prolonged legal battle, but the additional gains on either side would have been for personal gain or pride. Instead, a positive resolution has been forged that publicly recognizes the decision was INCORRECT and, importantly, has resulted in a revised protocol for hypersensitivity.

Details of the revised protocol will be issued before the Aachen CHIO. From what we understand they will require more checks and balances which should eliminate any misuse of the protocol either by mistake or abuse of power.

While we still recognize that McLain can’t get back the World Cup he lost in Geneva, we applaud those involved for this resolution.

For more information, please visit www.narg.org.